John An­gus cel­e­brates a life­time achieve­ment

The Oban Times - - News -

ANOTHER suc­cess­ful Ar­gyll­shire Gath­er­ing con­cluded last week, writes Robert Wal­lace, and plans are al­ready un­der­way for next year’s gath­er­ing.

The weather was par­tic­u­larly un­kind on games day, although it bright­ened up later, but it could not lessen the light in the eye of new gold medal­list John An­gus Smith.

He said: ‘It feels fan­tas­tic to have won the gold medal. It has been the achieve­ment of a life­time for me. I still can’t be­lieve it.

‘I won the Sil­ver Medal in 1994 with Cor­rienes­san’s Salute, so for 21 years I have been try­ing for the gold. I’ve had prizes in it be­fore, a third and two fifths.

‘At times I thought it was go­ing to pass me by. I was get­ting to that stage where I was won­der­ing whether I was ever go­ing to get it, and when you have been play­ing and com­pet­ing all your life and you start to think about it in that way it means a great deal to ac­tu­ally fi­nally get it. I am just over the moon.

‘As to the per­for­mance, the pipes were great. Some years I’ve come here and the pipes have let me down, other years I’ve played well and it’s not been quite there. This year I felt I played very, very well. I was just de­lighted and the pipe held. I felt good; I felt the tune was at a nice tempo [ Lament for Don­ald Duaghal MacKay] and I was singing away in my head as I went through try­ing to get the mu­sic out.’

John An­gus is based in Lon­don, though his fam­ily hails from South Uist. He has al­ways been in­volved with the Scot­tish Pip­ing So­ci­ety of Lon­don, is pip­ing con­venor of the Uist and Barra As­so­ci­a­tion Pro­fes­sional Pip­ing Com­pe­ti­tion and is a past pres­i­dent of the Com­pet­ing Pipers’ As­so­ci­a­tion. His tu­tors in­clude Pipe Ma­jor Alex Mac­Don­ald, Lon­don, Ron­ald Mor­ri­son and Robert Wal­lace. His other pip­ing awards in­clude the Sil­ver Medal and the Gillies Cup, Lon­don, and many other im­por­tant tro­phies and medals.

These awards ac­cepted, the great­est day in his pip­ing life came when he led 25 pipers in the march to the games as pipe ma­jor and new Ar­gyll­shire Gath­er­ing gold medal­list.

New sil­ver medal­list is Sandy Cameron. Judges in that event re­ported his per­for­mance as ‘ab­so­lutely out­stand­ing’ for such a young piper. ‘Full of ma­tu­rity of ex­pres­sion, com­ple­mented with tech­ni­cal ex­cel­lence and a su­perb bag­pipe,’ said one.

Sandy’s win com­pleted a mar­vel­lous sum­mer for him. In his fi­nal year at Dol­lar Academy, his school pipe band was pro­claimed ju­ve­nile world cham­pi­ons. He is now go­ing on to study at univer­sity.

The se­nior piobaireachd was won by Stu­art Lid­dell. The judges there re­ported a lot of safe play­ing, though the prizewin­ners all played well. The con­test was longer than usual, with all the big MacCrim­mon tunes on of­fer. This was a real feast for the piobaireachd lover - a feast that will be re­peated in the Clasp com­pe­ti­tion at In­ver­ness next week.

The ju­nior piobaireachd event, the MacGre­gor Me­mo­rial, was won by Charles Mac­Don­ald from In­ver­ness.

Charles showed a lot of ma­tu­rity in putting to­gether two first class tunes in the End of the Great Bridge and the Old Men of the Shells.

In the lat­ter he was rather snappy with vari­a­tion two, but oth­er­wise this was at­trac­tive ceol mor. Sec­ond went to John Dew with a good Lach­lan MacNeill Camp­bell of Kin­tar­bert. He lacked the colour and shad­ing Charles brought to his tune, but this is a very promis­ing piper in­deed; tech­ni­cally able and ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing a nicely set pipe on the big oc­ca­sion. Third went to Cal­lum Wat­son with Hec­tor Ma­clean’s Warn­ing: good bold play­ing with the ground just lack­ing a lit­tle poise, and fourth to Ross Miller with MacLeod of Raasay straight, safe play­ing on a good pipe.

Above: John An­gus Smith of Lon­don and South Uist, win­ner of the gold medal at the Ar­gyll­shire Gath­er­ing pip­ing com­pe­ti­tions

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